In August 2011 I attended the fifth birthday party of the hotel my Dad managed at the time. There were tables laid out in the reception and dining room area full of arts and crafts from the Dumfriesshire area alongside other groups such as the local amateur dramatics society. In one corner however, were a group who caught my eye as they were promoting their Ghost Walk tours around Dumfries town centre. I took a leaflet from ‘Mostly Ghostly’ and read through it when I got home. About two months later I found myself walking through Dumfries on a Halloween night being told about ghosts, witch trials and haunted buildings. It was a fantastic night, I e-mailed the group to let them know how much I had enjoyed myself and they got back in touch to thank me. Their marvelous Ghost Walk project then won the 2012 Tourism Champion Award from Dumfries and Galloway Life magazine and well deserved it was too.
They went on to launch a Haunted Highways Coach Tour covering the local A75 road between Gretna and Dumfries, said to be the most haunted road in Scotland and this resulted in me e-mailing them to tell them about the various haunting stories of Gretna Hall, the hotel my Dad managed when I was young and the place I grew up in. Also, I informed them of my two great Uncles who both died as a result of motorcycle accidents in the 1930’s on that road, five years apart from each other, in pretty much the same circumstances.
It was this that set up a meeting between members of Mostly Ghostly and myself in Dumfries on Friday past. To explain to you dear reader, I am not often in Dumfries town itself despite being born there and having family who work in the town therefore I’m fairly clueless as to my way around the place unless it’s the main street. Our original plan to meet in Costa was quickly altered when we realised that the piped music and general chattering noise in the place would mean we’d probably not hear each other at all so we found ourselves heading towards the tea room in Barbours department store not far away (imagine the sort of place that still sells home made cakes from glass cabinets and has paintings from local artists on the walls and you’re just about there).
I sat for about three hours with Kathleen, James and John from the group as we went through theories behind various sightings, stories of Gretna Hall and my great Uncles. For some reason that I cannot recall I ended up talking about videogames as well, hoping I wasn’t going to end up going on about them for ages and boring them with the details. I might have told them about ‘Papers Please‘ a fair bit. My Mum, being the historian she is, had given me a newspaper cutting that confirmed our thinking that Gretna Hall was used as an asylum for mentally ill patients in the 1930’s so we flicked though that whilst drinking coffee and eating some rather lovely cake. Whilst I was with them somebody rang to say they had seen a ghostly figure in a mirror during one of their tours of the Theatre Royal in Dumfries, a conversation they seemed to take in their stride. I suppose when you’re searching for evidence of spirits then this kind of thing is fairly common. It was a brilliant chance to have a talk with such good company.
Mostly Ghostly are a fantastic bunch and I don’t think they have anybody else comparable in the local area at least (there are other groups who do investigations but none have made the effort to get these stories out to a wider audience in such an entertaining manner). Kathleen is writing a book about the various ghostly goings on around the South West Scotland area and is interested in any stories people may have to tell. If you’re from the local area and have had any sightings or experiences of the paranormal then you can get in touch with them on their website to let them know.